August 2011 Newsletter

newheaderPittsburg Vintage Grand Prix
As mentioned last month, we checkout the 356talk forum on the 356 Registry website almost daily. A while back under Events, there was talk about the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix to be held in mid July at a park in downtown Pittsburg. This would be the 28th annual road race; one of only two road races remaining for sports cars. The other road race of course is Monaco.

Since we lost our Steamboat road race years ago, we thought checking out the Pittsburgh event would be fun. We registered, got all the details and made plans. There is a group of 356 folks in Pittsburgh called the 356Burgs. No officers, no rules just fun. When they saw I was registered, they said they wanted to take me to dinner when I arrived. Six of them met me at the event hotel. They gave me a great goodie bag and we drove the 356’s to dinner. We got to ride in a driver Twin Grille Roadster with a stinger exhaust. The owner really liked the blip, bark and backfire that exhaust. Fun!

Since the Allegany Region of the PCA was celebrating their 50th anniversary there was also a car show at a downtown brewery, Also Fun! The day of the races we had about twenty 356 leave from the event hotel. There was a brief rain shower that morning so there was a short delay getting on the golf course that surrounds the race track. They had over 2,000 cars for the car show and over 20,000 spectators as this is a free event as mandated by the industrialist that donated the park to the city. There were 83 356s entered in the show and the 356 Registry provided a tent.
Which was needed as it was hot and humid.

Since the race is held on the park roadway it is off camber, narrow, bumpy and surrounded by trees. This is probably why there were no big bore cars racing. An ideal track for Porsches and we had a dozen 356s racing. Good races, great 356 folks and an event we would strongly recommend.

BJ and I use car wheel dollies to not only move 356s but also to move 356 engines and transmissions. The problem as we get older is lifting a 200 plus pound engine up to place it on the dolly.

Harbor Freight had a shop crane for sale normally $198 on sale for $98. We hadn’t purchased one as they are big and difficult to store. But the one on sale folded up. So we decided to buy one but instead of driving to the Harbor Freight store we decided to order online. No problem, we got the sale price but the shipping was $100! So we drove and picked one up. It works great.

BJ has just about finished the metal work on the Illinois ‘60 Cab-Mr. Rivets. We call this a “bottom everything”. The body work shouldn’t be too bad as there is no major collision damage, just the typical rust damage i.e. front/back of doors, nose dents and door skins. We started preparing parts for Mr. Rivets. We asked the owner to track down seats as his were too rusty to use. For seats, you have to spend time calling recycling venders or using the Internet. We leave this to the owner as our time is better spent working on 356s. The owner found some seats and they are what you would expect for fifty year old seats, but usable.

Preparing parts means cleaning, painting, polishing and dry fitting. We use our bench grinder on a stand with a fine wire wheel to remove rust from small parts and hardware. Parts are cleaned with solvent and painted with a two part epoxy primer and then painted satin black. While we know gloss black isn’t correct for painted parts, we will paint the early gas tanks and generator plate gloss black for a little “wow“ factor.

We finished assembly of the Shop ‘64 Signal Red Coupe and started collecting parts for an engine. The original engine had a hole in the case. We had a good 912 case and we can use the original third piece to maintain the engine number. It looks like we will need pistons and cylinders (P&Cs) and a crank. The rest of the parts we have. We try to keep rebuilt carburetors and distributors on the shelf.

Rebuilding is not cheap but using a known good part resolves many issues with used parts.

For large parts cleaning, we use Blast Tech. While we have a parts cleaner and blasting cabinet, we seldom use them. We just take boxes of dirty, rusty parts to Blast Tech and usually within a week we get back clean bare metal parts ready for paint.

While the Shop ‘58 is at the painters we also starting preparing its parts. The Cab had been disassembled from a rust bucket years ago and while some of the parts were bagged many are missing. While we may have some on the shelf we will probably have to check the vendors and the Internet. We have parts on the shelf because we quit selling parts as a business when we realized some parts are hard to find and we rather use our parts for restorations. Pre-A and A parts are very difficult to find now. Large parts like seats, doors, hoods can be found but in used to very used condition and expensive. We would get $800-$1,000 for a good virgin hood but now of course we keep them for restorations. Since we don’t rebuild engines we have always commented on the number of engine parts we have accumulated. The answer of course is many of the project 356s we buy come with extra engine parts, either leftover from a rebuild or bought for future use.

Grandpa News
Alex started second grade on August 8th. She tried to fill the last two weeks of summer vacation with bike riding, skate board, basketball and passing her next level of swim lessons. But getting her new black terrier puppies “Boulder” and “Crystal” was the biggest thing.